When Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera Hänsel und Gretel was premiered on 23 December 1893 in Weimar conducted by Richard Strauss, the work could look back on an extensive history of origin. Humperdinck’s younger sister Adelheid Wette (born in 1858) had displayed a great interest in literature in her youth and written a variety of poems for special occasions. In 1888, she wrote a fairy tale entitled Schneewittchen [Snow White] and her brother supplied some songs for this piece. Further fairy tale collaborations followed which were customarily performed within the family circle, and the first draft of the Hänsel und Gretel was begun in 1890. Adelheid’s husband would be celebrating his 34th birthday on 16 May of this year and his wife intended to surprise him with a performance of her version of this fairy tale. Her brother was allotted the task of composing the accompanying songs and, a month before the birthday, she wrote a letter to him in Mainz where Engelbert Humperdinck was among other activities working as an editor for the Schott publishing house, ordering a “very pretty folkloric” Tanzlied [Dance song], a Waldlied [Forest song] (or Echolied [Echo song]), a Schlummerlied [Lullaby] and a Kickericki-Lied [Cock-a-doodle-doo song] from her “dear sugar-sweet little brother... Engel-Bärtchen [angel beard]”. She enclosed the corresponding verses with the letter and “for fun” also provided her own invented melody for the Schlummerlied and rhythmic suggestions for the Tanzlied. Humperdinck went straight to work and, as related in an entry in his diary, was already able to play the songs to the director of the publishing house, Dr Ludwig Strecker, by 19 April.This was the history of origin of the four songs published for the first time edited in form of their original versions in this edition Brüderchen komm’ tanz’ mit mir, Wer ruft mir im Walde doch alles nach, In den Zweigen die Vögelein und Tirelireli! ‘s ist nicht mehr früh “for two children’s voices and piano accompaniment” (see manuscript1). In his reply letter to his sister in which the fair copy of the songs were enclosed, Humperdinck wrote: “As you see, the pitch of the melodies is not too high and I have incorporated your melodies. Let me know soon whether you like the little songs. By the way, the ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ can also be sung on one note(E flat) instead of on the four notes of the chord.”The first performance of the song-play was held as planned within the family circle with Wettes’ two eldest daughters in the two principle roles. Spurred on by the success of the family performance, initial plans were forged to adapt the song-play into a singspiel with numerous musical numbers and rhymed dialogues; Hermann Wette participated in a draft of the text. The particell of this singspiel had been completed by Christmas 1890. Hugo Wolf and a few others however advised the composer to extend the singspiel into a through-composed fairy tale opera. Humperdinck followed this advice and worked on what he ironically termed as a “Kinderstubenweihfestspiel“ [sacred festive play for the nursery] during the next two summers in Bayreuth. Tanzliedchen [Dance song] and Morgenweckruf [Cock-a-doodle-doo song] were eventually included in the opera in a modified form.